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Sturgeon says inquiry ‘does have’ Covid messages after WhatsApp texts erased

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Sturgeon says inquiry 'does have' Covid messages after WhatsApp texts erased

The former first minister of Scotland has said the UK Covid Inquiry “does have messages” between her and those she communicated with during the pandemic.

Nicola Sturgeon says she will “answer questions directly and openly” when she gives evidence to the inquiry at the end of January.

It comes after the UK Covid Inquiry heard on Friday that all WhatsApp messages sent and received by Ms Sturgeon during the pandemic were erased.

She previously said she never used informal messages to make decisions throughout the pandemic, but was criticised by a number of political opponents who say she is attempting to hide exchanges with key ministers and advisers.

During the pandemic, it had been widely reported in the media that the messages were deleted.

Jamie Dawson KC, counsel to the inquiry, said on Friday that a table submitted by the Scottish Government confirmed that was the case.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, the former first minister wrote on Saturday: “I do not intend to give a running commentary on the ongoing Inquiry.

“Instead, out of respect to all those impacted by the pandemic, I will answer questions directly and openly when I give evidence at the end of this month.

“However, in light of recent coverage, there are certain points I feel it important to make clear.

“Contrary to the impression given in some coverage, the Inquiry does have messages between me and those I most regularly communicated with through informal means.”

She added: “Although these had not been retained on my own device, I was able to obtain copies which I submitted to the Inquiry last year.

“To be clear, I conducted the Covid response through formal processes from my office in St Andrews House, not through WhatsApp or any other informal messaging platform. I was not a member of any WhatsApp groups.

“The number of people I communicated with through informal messaging at all was limited.

“Also, any handwritten notes made by me were passed to my private office to be dealt with and recorded as appropriate. Throughout the entire process, I acted in line with Scottish Government policy.”

Ms Sturgeon went on to say that while she did her best to lead Scotland through the pandemic, she admitted she “did not get every decision right – far from it”, but said she was “motivated only, and at all times, by the determination to keep people as safe as possible”.

Scottish Conservative party chairman Craig Hoy MSP said the former first minister “must think the Scottish public are fools if they believe there is nothing untoward here”, stating she must have “repeatedly deleted” her WhatsApp messages and “must have done so for a reason”.

He added: “Rather than apologising to the country, she is cynically seeking to deflect attention from the mass deletion of key messages by top ministers and officials.

“If there are no minutes of key Covid meetings, no notes and no messages, how were any decisions made? How are any inquiries supposed to understand the motives, disagreement and discussion behind them?

“Saying there’s no decisions sent by WhatsApp does not inform the public at all.

“This statement is just another instalment in the unravelling of the SNP. The addiction to spin and secrecy must come to an end now.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is committed to responding to both the UK and Scottish Covid-19 inquiries, as learning lessons from the pandemic is vital to prepare for the future.

“It would be inappropriate to comment on any matters being considered by the UK Covid Inquiry while hearings are ongoing.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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